Tag Archives: web design

Cats, Content, and Community by @homebrewer #ndf2012

Cats, Content, and Community: a year of long tails on walerart.org
Nate Solas (@homebrewer), Walker Art Center
Nate is the Senior New Media Developer and Head Technologist at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN. In that role, Nate leads the team responsible for back-end development and database work for all Walker web properties: walkerart.org, artsconnected.org, and mnartists.org.
A technology leader at the Walker since 2003, Nate has helped shape the direction of the institution’s web presence and developed strategies for multidisciplinary content online. In 2011, Nate and colleagues launched the new Walker Art Center
website, walkerart.org. Awarded 2012 Best Innovative/Experimental Site and Best Overall Site by the International Conference of Museums and the Web and nominated for a Webby Award, the site has been hailed as a ‘game-changer’.

In this talk, Nate thinks about cats, content, and community: a year of long tails at walkerart.org. Launched at about the same time as last year’s NDF, the site caused a stir felt as far away as Wellington. What made it unique? And how can its success be measured a year on, once the lustre of launch has worn off? What difference has the site made on the internal culture at the Walker and to its local audiences? And what of the cats?

New website a significant approach from brochure-style, marketing-based, to a content model. Nina Simon described as “not about the Walker Art Center. It is the Walker Art Center in digital form”.

More measuring. Less guessing. –both to be more transparent and more accountable.

Walker recognised as multidisciplinary contemporary arts centre. Wanted to drag web presence along with the physical.

Site is content-centred – more like museum than website. No longer an island on the internet. Why content-centred? World is changing. Taking message to audience, telling our story. Add context to conversation about arts.

Betting: People will engage if you provide content that delivers value. We can do this in physical but not good at transitioning to web or retaining it.

Heat map of views – people don’t always scroll down but often do – and of clicks – hotspot right at the bottom: “jobs”. People do scroll if they’re looking for something!

Pull in art news from elsewhere (big sites and small), changes throughout the day and keeps the page fresh. We don’t try to trap people – we’re not the destination – we let them go. Minnesota arts news, artists’ voices, archives connectable with current events — all this is on homepage which is very long, scrollable. Like a magazine

Many users just want to get in and out, only want to know the hours so put that at top left. Visit menu is on every day – hover over and it shows hours and map. Similarly on mobile hours and today’s exhibitions show up at the top.

Search includes spelling corrections. “More like this” features even if doesn’t link only to own website. “404 not found” and “Server error” pages show materials from collection. Events page includes animated confetti; one exhibition page has a bees appearing at 7-second intervals.

“Huge webteam” — well, compared to what? The team is this big because something else is smaller. Not rolling on money, it’s a tradeoff. Wanted to run as a content hub but didn’t have staff. Managed to get a new hire. Much development then presented in-house and got feedback….

What designers say: “This isn’t quite finished yet.”
What clients hear: “Oh good, there’s still time for them to add our programme above the fold.”

Need to entice locals as well as engaging those who can’t visit.

Is it working?
Yes. Visits up 35% (year to year). Immediate shift when site launched – 200% increase of people going straight there by typing in address. People staying for 3 pages are up 30%. 50% more visitors return within 2 weeks. International visits up 32%. Paid gallery admission up 12% – nothing to do with the website – or does it?

What about content? Harder to compare year over year. But can say it’s hard being a content producer – “shaking the content tree” going to departments to try and get content to put online. 6-8 pieces of content per day. Includes links to other sites which aren’t written but are read and approved to link in. A couple of original pieces per day.

Assumption that articles would have long life on line but hadn’t tested this.

Long tail of usage of individual bits of content. Looked at individual bits to get graphs, overlaid all and got a long tail. How many pageviews would we be getting in the longterm? Calculated as 1.5views/day. Turns out for their content usage in head (first 2 weeks) = usage in next 9 = tail (usage in next year). Interestingly when page is fresh people glance at it; but when less fresh, people who get there spend more time on it. At the longtail – after about 80 days – it’s less “Please read this thing we wrote” and more them searching out a resource they need.

Ran same analysis on blogposts. Blog content getting less usage. Why? Articles written better? How do you measure this? One measure is the Flesch-Kincaid measure, counting syllables in words etc. Found when blogposts are well-produced – peak at grades 12-13 – it’s used in the longtail. (OTOH there’s a spike at grade 6-7: this turns out to be things the internet loves, eg top ten lists, interviews with artists, and technology how-to posts.)

External search drives the long tail especially where it’s quality content; people need it.

Online community exists in the intersection between authentic and interacture. Eg on every page include the weather. It says, “We have a building.” Shared experience, even if just the weather, is a pillar of community.

Use Facebook comments with the new site. Scan list and look for question marks.
But don’t get comments on their events pages. Why? Shows graph of 90 days before event and 90 days after: the long tail goes the wrong way – leads up to and peaks on day of event. The day after the event you have to search to find the page. Might as well not exist – but people are interested in this. They are looking for it. Maybe want to talk about it. What if after the event we gave them an opportunity to discuss it? Light it up with links to everything we know about artists, become a hub for discussion. –This is the biggest gap on their site right now.

Big tip: cat videos. Irresistible. Wondered what could we do with an open field? Screened an hour’s worth of internet cats. 10,000 people came, spilled out onto freeways. Number of pageviews on day of festival doubled compared to day of site launch. OTOH it turns out that cat lovers aren’t fans of contemporary art. However people landing on catvidfest page make up 3% of all visits to the Walker site. A few people do explore the site a bit (though they may just be lost).

But you can’t trick people. If they came for the cats, don’t try to make them look at contemporary art. Leave it around the edges. If they want it they’ll find it.

Highlights Rijksmuseum – a mobile-first site. Mobile site has three things in navigation; website has three things in navigation. Will this be successful? If so, who’ll be the first to flat-out copy it?

Stop inventing, start iterating.

Don’t just copy unless you can add value. If someone else is doing something well, just link to them. Get back to the basics of what only you can do that no-one else can do.

Q: Impressed by making web its own thing, not just copy of physical.
A: Need to recognise a big chunk of world is interested in this but won’t come to build it. How do we balance serving local audience with distance audience especially with limited budgets? Depends on what you care about – make sure you measure that.

Q: Metaphor of intersection – what about revisitation? Audience might be able to come (physically) once a year but maybe not three times a year. Barrier of charging may reduce visits.
A: Not sure if web presence has impacted this. Local traffic hasn’t changed much – still want to know how to get there, when they’re open.

Q: Have you brought any of the online into the physical?
A: No but have thought about it and a possible space. Tempted to even just throw website up to let visitors know but space not consumption-friendly.

Q: Plans for resurfacing content from the long tail? Eg annual, biannual events?
A: We do – “from the archives” section on homepage, “here’s more like it” section, search.

Q: Events page with long tail ‘the wrong way round’ – is the marketing making effort to get more interaction including before event?
A: Don’t want to put more resources than needed to sell out!

Q: Do you have comments on collection pages?
A: No space for that to happen. Has seen comments in a separate tab which hides them and ruins the point. Would be most compelling in connection to an exhibition.

Q: Any thoughts on how to advocate for value of the size of the team going forward? Is it sustainable – any post-success pressure to now reduce size of team?
A: Yes, always pressures. Some grace period now, giving them time to educate, lobby, sustain development. “So much of job not just doing the good work but defending the good work.”

Digital Channel Strategy: onsite, offsite and online #ndf2012

Digital Channel Strategy: onsite, offsite and online
Karen Mason and David Reeves (@requironz), Auckland Museum
How does an encyclopaedic museum, that is also a war memorial and a classified heritage building located on a sacred site, develop serious street cred with a virtual community?
Auckland Museum is in a process of renewal. Within a broader, strategic context – which includes the future vision for Auckland City – planning has begun towards significant enhancements to public and back-of-house spaces, the roll-out of a new brand, new collections, research and audience engagement strategies and commercial initiatives. Lock-step with these developments is the upgrade of legacy IT systems and the formation of a digital roadmap spanning distributed channels: web, smart devices, social media, ecommerce, elearning, third-party content aggregators, in-gallery interactives and off-site programmes.
This presentation aims to bring to life the practical process of defining a growth path for the integrated use of discrete digital channels aligned to the needs and motivations of prioritised users. We’ll cover ICT platforms, searchable, useable and shareable content, online engagement with collections and public programmes; who our audiences are and what is meaningful to them. We’ll question which onsite programmes need an online iteration and which interactions work better online than physically. We’ll ask what does success look like and how is it measured. And what does all this means for resource allocation and planning processes?
While answers to these and other burning questions have yet to be fully revealed, our experiences are shared as a ‘work-in-progress’.

Project started as web redesign but early realised not just redesigning website; collided with org masterplan about recasting/refurbishing galleries. Took a step back to think of digital strategy fitting into broader strategy.

Digital channels include: website, blogs, apps, onsite interactive displays, audio tours, scholarly databases, facebook, flickr, youtube, twitter…

Are we all strategied out? Is this a strategy, roadmap, plan? But needed guiding principles to inform future use and prioritisation of time, skills, money.

Want to be audience-focused and collections-led. Want to connect audience and collections. Extend reach, enable audiences to go deeper. But collections becoming more complex, audiences more diverse and with higher expectations. Challenge to create connected experiences across this complex landscape and let audiences connect back to us and to each other.

Have website, blog, social media. Various databases which don’t talk to each other. Many in-gallery interactives and trails – lots of work which proud of, but want to stop creating content that’s locked into a single system: want to repurpose. Hard to know where it even is. – audience reaction indicates a familiar sight.

Looking at EDRMS and DAMS

Creating a content map to show content / channel / who’s responsible for it / how it joins up with other content / how it can link to/from third-party sites.

Using website as central layer; social media to start conversations but website to continue conversations; where relevant drive to other sites including external sites or back to website eg for online bookings/subscriptions.

Developed guiding principles:

  • Digital guardianship
  • sustainable delivery
  • universal access

Not just collections but context becoming increasingly important. Need to represent relationships across platforms. Build a platform not to replace systems but let them speak to each other. Collection data and context are an essential foundation – we don’t have all of this in electronic form yet.

Facebook (or similar) as front face of collections? [rights issues if taking this literally]

“Collection readiness” – getting collections ready for presentation in projects. Digitisation, capture content in workflows, capture data in open formats. Can be disruptive. Permissions, rights etc – more of an issue now that we’re less hesitant about letting things go. Enriched records for items on display (#1 priority.)

(Getting high quality images of “types” (butterfly specimens) [me: wouldn’t it be great to get 3d images of these?] but not connected to records system.)

COPE: Create Once, Publish Everywhere. Capture content without thinking of how outputted, need to make it channel-neutral. Then have templated ways to turn it into various forms.

Web-centric but want to make things available across a range of devices. Universal access principle to let people connect wherever they are, whatever device they use. Also supports pre-visit, during-visit, post-visit, and instead-of-visit.

Easy to be captured by the latest shiny – but don’t want to go down cul-de-sacs. Take a measured approach to new technologies. But confident in investing in bring-your-own-device.

The long game – vision to enrich collection with deep, rich content, deliver by open data standards, shared functional components, to let content be repurposed as diverse connected experiences across many devices to anyone anywhere.

Links of Interest – ebook lending, web design, bibliographic software, open access

Lending eBooks
Colorado’s Douglas County Libraries has come up with a model whereby they buy, host, and manage the lending of ebooks (including DRM), rather than subscribe to publishers’ platforms. See more details on the model and a letter to publishers about how it works.

Here’s a cute way of reminding users of the value of libraries when they check out print books. It would be interesting to think of ways to make this work with e-resources…

Web design
See a demo of One-Pager, a free template for library websites designed and user-tested to make it easy to find the most important information – and to be immediately mobile-friendly and accessible. You can read more or download the code here.

Bibliographic software
Beyond Bibliographies: Collaborating with Citation Software (powerpoint) is a poster comparing Endnote, RefWorks, Zotero, and Mendeley.

Open Access
(I try to include a variety of stuff in these round-ups, but open access is kind of a strong interest of mine, so…)

Some keen-eyed librarians noticed that the previously open-access Reference and User Services Quarterly was suddenly open-access no longer; the Library Loon investigated and reported back. Apparently in future articles will be embargoed for a year, although as at writing older articles aren’t available yet either.

(This reminds me that I keep meaning to find out whether The New Zealand Library And Information Management Journal is intended to be open access or if it’s just openly accessible by default, so to speak. In any case they’re there at the moment – as are all the LIANZA conference papers from 2004. They’re not browsable/searchable in the most user-friendly format but I know from experience what the web group’s dealing with, and that just getting them all in one place is a fantastic achievement.)

The Library Loon also has a fantastic discussion about how to recognise scammy “open access” publishers.

SCORE Library Survey Report “aimed to get a national [UK] perspective on institutional engagement in Open Educational Resources through their librarians”.

Open Access in Chemistry – slides from a presentation at the 2011 ACS Spring Meeting giving an excellent overview of what it says on the tin – in terms both of numbers and of attitudes.

Links of Interest 30/3/2012 – article linker, impact factors of open access journals, and more

Customer service
UConn Discovers What Students Want From Their Library – too complex for a pull quote, follow the link for a summary.

Two solutions for increasing the usability of that blasted Article Linker page:

Open Access
JQ at the University of Oregon writes about High-impact open access journals and includes some invaluable tables of OA journals ranked by SJR, SciMago, and Eigenfactor impact factors. These (sorted by subject) could be useful for promoting OA to departments and to students graduating from university who still want to keep up with research.

Positioning Open Access Journals in a LIS Journal Ranking looks at OA journals in the library science field:
This research uses the h-index to rank the quality of library and information science journals between 2004 and 2008. Selected open access (OA) journals are included in the ranking to assess current OA development in support of scholarly communication. It is found that OA journals have gained momentum supporting high-quality research and publication, and some OA journals have been ranked as high as the best traditional print journals. The findings will help convince scholars to make more contributions to OA journal publications, and also encourage librarians and information professionals to make continuous efforts for library publishing.

Data curation
Demystifying the data interview: Developing a foundation for reference librarians to talk with researchers about their data
As libraries become more involved in curating research data, reference librarians will need to be trained in conducting data interviews with researchers to better understand their data and associated needs. This article seeks to identify and provide definitions for the basic terms and concepts of data curation for librarians to properly frame and carry out a data interview using the Data Curation Profiles (DCP) Toolkit.

Subscription statistics
Subscriptions in Context (powerpoint) is a clear and elegant presentation for University of Central Oklahoma library faculty liaisons on all the factors the Serials department considers when evaluating subscriptions.

Just for fun
A Library Society of the World thread began, “Gregor Samsa awoke from uneasy dreams to find he had been transformed into a monstrous librarian” and went on from there.

Links of interest 7/4/2011 – reference and webdesign

A bit of fun: Book Sculptures

College & Research Libraries (C&RL) will become an open access publication beginning with the May 2011 issue.

Citation Management Software: Features and Futures (RUSQ) compares RefWorks, EndNote, and Zotero from both a user and librarian perspective.

Reference and virtual reference
Search for the answer, not the question – “Assume the answer to your question is out there, and think about how the answer might have been written.” I’ve been teaching students something like this, focusing on thinking about who would have written about something and where they would have published.

“Are We Getting Warmer?”: Query Clarification in Live Chat Virtual Reference (RUSQ)
“Results indicate that accuracy was enhanced for librarians who used clarifying questions in answering ready reference (factual) questions.”

Mu, X., Dimitroffa, A., Jordana, J., and Burclaffa, N. A Survey and Empirical Study of Virtual Reference Service in Academic Libraries The Journal of Academic Librarianship 37(2) pp. 120-129.
“Virtual Reference Services (VRS) have high user satisfaction. The main problem is its low usage. We surveyed 100 academic library web sites to understand how VRS are presented. We then conducted a usability study to further test an active VRS model regarding its effectiveness.”

Website usability
One-Pager is a simple, mobile-friendly, user-friendly “library website template that allows your patrons to find what they want” – described elsewhere as a solution to messy library websites.

A couple of papers from Computers in Libraries are reported:

Links of interest 21/1/2011

Library instruction
I’ve recently been pondering the idea of database searches as an experiment – hypothesis, experiment, evaluate, modify the hypothesis and try again. This might make a useful way to introduce sci/tech students in particular to the idea that you’re not going to necessarily get your best results from your first search; I’ll have to see how they receive it when I’ve actually got a class to test it on.

Incorporating Failure Into Library Instruction (from ACRLog) discusses the pedagogy of learning by failure and talks about times when it’s more or less suitable for library instruction.

Anne Pemberton’s super-awesome paper From friending to research: Using Facebook as a teaching tool (January 2011, College & Research Libraries News, vol. 72 no. 1 28-30) discusses Facebook as a useful teaching metaphor for databases.

Don’t Make It Easy For Them (from ACRLog) – with caveats in the comments that I think are at least as important as the main post.

Heads they win, tales we lose: Discovery tools will never deliver on their promise – and don’t miss the comment thread at the bottom of the page, which segues into the dilemma of increasingly expensive journal bundles and possible (vs viable) solutions.

Research data
There’s a whole D-Lib Magazine issue devoted to this topic this month.

Web services
The Web Is a Customer Service Medium discusses the idea that “the fundamental question of the web” is “Why wasn’t I consulted?” – that is, each medium has its niche of what it’s good at and why people use it, and webpages need to consider how to answer this question.

Library Day in the Life
Round 6 begins next week, in which librarians from all walks of librarianship share a day (or week) in the life.

Wild ideas free to a good home

1.You know in sf you get to say “Oh hi computer, calculate this for me / find me information about this thing / make me some hot Earl Grey tea!” and the computer says “Sure thing, my friend!” and does it?

Here’s how that could work in the near future:

  • speech recognition – this is fairly well developed already (I’ve recently started using it myself for navigating and dictating on my home computer) and will continue to improve
  • + a search engine
  • + a whole lot of aps for different functions, with associated metadata which can be matched against what the user’s asked for.

The computer, like a librarian, doesn’t have to know everything, it just needs to know where to find everything. Ask it a calculating-type question and it gets a Wolfram|Alpha-style widget that can calculate the answer. Ask it an encyclopaedic-type question and it brings you an answer from a Wikipedia-type source. Ask it to convert your word processing document into pdf and it finds the appropriate ap to do that. Tell it you want a pizza, it finds the aps from the local pizza places, asks (or remembers) your price/quality/toppings preferences, and places the order for you. In due course, your doorbell rings.

I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this was working within five years. I also wouldn’t be overly surprised if it wasn’t; while we’ve got all the pieces, gluing it together mightn’t be quite so straightforward as an idealist would think.

2.Dynamic/adaptive website navigation. For sprawling websites: instead of having the traditional static navigation links, have the server generate the links based on the most popular recent destinations for visitors to the same page.

This one’s easier to program (I think, if I put the work in, I could come up with a clunky implementation myself) – you just need server-side scripting with access to stats of a) links clicked and b) keywords searched. I’d weight keywords searched a bit higher than links clicked (partly to keep things dynamic but mostly because people will tend to click a link first if it looks even halfway relevant, so just the fact of searching will indicate that the current links are useless).

So when you go to (say) the uni library’s homepage at the start of term it’ll show links to the catalogue, and tutorials, and computer workrooms. Towards exam time people will start searching for “past exam papers” so that’ll soon appear on the homepage, while “tutorials” will drop off, but people will click the “computer workrooms” more so that’ll stay on.

There are obvious downsides to this approach. Confusion about links shifting around, for one. Also ideally it should be customisable so postgrads can see a view which isn’t overwhelmed by the preferences of undergraduates for most of the year. But. It would be interesting. I’d like to try it sometime (or see someone else try it).

Links of interest 11/6/09

University of California Berkeley Library have redesigned their animated tutorials page to be “more visual, navigable, and less, ahem, u-g-l-y, while giving users a means of providing a bit of feedback on the tutorials to help us evaluate and prioritize them.”

LexisNexis NZ has a new Twitter account. (And have I mentioned Springshare’s account where they post about updates to LibGuides?) Ooh, and the COSC department, another new Twitter account, have just plugged the library’s online exam papers.

The User is Not Broken manifesto has its third birthday.

The National Library of Wales is Flickr’s 26th Commons partner. “The key goals of The Commons on Flickr are to firstly show you hidden treasures in the world’s public photography archives, and secondly to show how your input and knowledge can help make these collections even richer.” See how users can add information in comments and notes (hover your mouse over the image).

Non-English blog roundup #11 – the sharing edition

“Non-English” seems to have turned into French, probably mostly because that’s the language I read best. Must remedy this. In any case, today I’ve got a collection of blog posts sharing data:

The Assessment Librarian was thinking about computer posts in his library dedicated to catalogue research only and wondered how much use these got compared to computers available for any purpose. Data collected over two weeks showed:

  • Arts and Sciences branch
    • Catalogue-only – 12% usage
    • ‘Open’ computers – 51% usage
  • Law and economy branch
    • Catalogue-only – 7% usage
    • ‘Open’ computers – 65% usage

He concludes that, while it’s not straight-forward to analyse the results, it’s worth considering whether there are other possible uses for their catalogue-only computer stations.

Inspired by this post, Des Bibliotheques 2.0:

And De Tout Sur Rien has decided “I will no longer participate in projects in which the publication of my contributions in a digital format and under Creative Commons license […] is not planned from the beginning,” and calls for colleagues and/or readers to make the same decision.